Everybody in the Pool

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and the official opening of our condo’s pool.  Growing up we never had a pool, during my married life we never had a pool, now I live on Stowe Ln and I’ve got a pool along with 400 other people.

I’m not a get to the pool early and get a seat with the appropriate sun positioning kind of girl but there are surely a number of those.  There are a number of families, a number of single women, a number of single moms and certainly a number of kids.

There is a pecking order, there are cliques, and there are interesting interactions.  All of which I truly enjoy watching and noting.  Not least of which is the governing of the mayor of the pool.  I’m sure every public pool has its unelected mayor; I believe my brother-in-law is one, but ours is quite unique.  She is a squat blonde who always has the requisite coffee cup in her hand (it’s yet to be determined if its coffee) a husky smoking-for-years voice who owns the table at the deep end of the pool.  Mind you there is no smoking at the pool but she takes her periodic walks out the gate to grab a puff and greet or look over the new entrants to the pool area depending on their standing with her.   Mind you also that there is no reserving of tables or lounge chairs but you would be hard pressed to find anyone going near the table at the deep end of the pool.  You get the picture. 

The mayor’s club includes a skinny woman with a permanent tan, the requisite coffee cup and a book she never seems to read.  An attention span thing I fear.  She is one of those people that things seem to happen to and she is always seeking advice from the mayor or the guy who knows everything.  He’s the other part of the mayor’s club.  He rides his bike, knows everyone who’s anyone in town and always has advice or a snide quip for the people around him.  Again depending on pool hierarchy, this little group will allow or disallow you to sit at their table at the deep end at will. 

I noticed there is the guy that wants to be the friend of the guy who knows everything.  He tries to make small talk with him but gets the snide quip.  He doesn’t give up until the quips get so targeted that when he mentions that his son looks as if he has the same tall forehead as he does he finally slinks back to the low end of the pool with his son in his arms. Really?  Who is this guy?

You can see that there are future guys that know everything too.  I heard a kid calling after one such future guy, “Hey Alex wait up, Hey Alex wait up.”  Alex didn’t wait up.  There is no more telling look on a kid’s face then the one after you’ve been dissed by the cool kid.  To his credit he shrugged his shoulders and jumped in the pool to start torturing his sister.  She wacked him.  Tough day for that kid.

Then of course there are the beautiful people.  The beautiful boys with tattoos on their pecks and partly, strategically shaved heads admiring the beautiful girls who know like they know they can set the world on fire.  It’s an intricate dance of getting up and getting wet then laying down and drying off flexing all the appropriate muscles while the former beautiful boys are sucking it in and sucking it up. 

The former beautiful boys are mostly the Dads with families that find themselves reacting to the ice cream truck that blares its obnoxious music about every hour.  The theme from The Sting or the Yellow Rose of Texas.  Shut that damn music off, it sets off the same hysteria every time by all the same kids and dads. Really?  Did you forget from an hour ago?  And Dad says yes to the pleas every hour.  Too funny, too sad, too I’ve turned into an auto-Dad.

There is the runner’s clique, the Eastern Block, the single mom’s clique each with their own intrinsic conversations, whether you can understand them or not.  There are the sit at the edge of the pool people, there are the swim a few laps people, there are the people who come in the morning and the people who come in the afternoon and the people who pack a lunch and stay all day. 

Then there is the life guard. He’s the man in charge of it all with the power to launch you from the pool if you don’t follow the rules.  He wants to be one of the beautiful boys but he’s not, he knows it so he is the serious one.  He measures the chemical balance each hour, makes sure you have your pool pass and insures you sign in.  He’s the guy, who with the help of the mayor will insure a pleasant pool experience this summer.  A true God love him….Happy Memorial Day



Most people think of spring as a time of renewal.  Gardeners in spring are beside themselves.  Last year I began a tiny garden by my back deck so this spring holds heightened anticipation wondering if everything (anything?) took.  The shrubs planted in the fall did not, only the oak leaf hydrangea showed any sign of a shoot.  Harumi’s lady’s mantle did not.  Jeanette’s chameleon, Florence’s hosta, Trudi’s black-eyed suzies and gay feather all made it.  It’s a deep shade little patch of land but it’s mine and I got immediately to work again.  Pull out the shrubs, turn the soil, and remove even more of the endless supply of rocks.  Start thinking about containers; start thinking about annuals to see if we can get some color.  My gardening muscles were sore again, how reassuring to know they weren’t lost.

Would this be enough to sustain my garden addiction?  Even more pressing, would I be able to go another season looking at those pathetic rhododendrons outside my front door.  You already know the answer, the rhodies are history.  I couldn’t take it another minute.  They are not my favorite shrub to begin with and the fact that they were starting to brown didn’t help. 

More rock removal, more soil turning, more digging, more planning, more scraping together a few bucks and off I go to Willow Run.  I know, I know.  I head directly for the clearance corner (I call it the orphanage) and hit pay dirt.  A rose of Sharon, two hydrangeas, and a few tiny azaleas are on their way to Stowe Lane.  A few more big bang for the buck plants, sweet woodruff, mountain pinks and some sage. 

The wholesale perennial grower is opening on Saturday so I need to save a few dollars for that run.  Saturday turns out to be a crappy day, drizzly and raw, perfect for getting new plants in the ground.  I come home with coreopsis, both tickseed and thread leaf, Stella d’oro lilies a real workhorse and hugely satisfying.  I have a cup of tea under the tarp with the owners and off I go to get my plants in.

I stand back and survey my handiwork and I can see what the future of this garden will be but for right now it is sparse.  I’m grateful to have it, I’m grateful my shoulders are sore and I know exactly where I can go for help.

I talk often about the kindness and generosity of gardeners and it is confirmed to me over and over again.  I sent an email out to a few people I work with who I also know are gardeners.  Subject:  Can you help a gardener out? I explained my deep shade dilemma, my newly formed front garden and the fact that I’m out of cash.  I know they understand.

This Sunday I have the promise of one of my gardener angels bringing grasses and hosta for my poor back garden.  I will have iris and day lilies for my new front garden. He will have a batch of pignoli nut cookies.

 The UPS man will be bringing additional shade perennials from another kind gardener the following week.  As I read their email list of offerings I am overcome with emotion.  It was very difficult leaving my old garden but now I’ve come to believe that wherever I go there will be a garden legacy so long as I can reach out to another gardener.  




Spring Post Script


I’ve just posted about Spring and the promise of things to come in my garden.  Here’s what really happened:

Sunday did indeed come but the promise of hosta and day lilies was grossly under-exaggerated.  When my friend, Kevin, showed up with plants it was an entire Yukon (he normally drives a MINI Cooper) full of plants. It was a jaw dropping moment complete with welling up and a complete loss for words (no snappy remarks).  There were hosta and more hosta and more hosta, and day lilies and more day lilies, grasses and ferns, columbine and Shasta daisy, iris and sedum, and wild geraniums.  There must have been fifty clumps of beautiful perennials all waiting for planting.  Of course they all went in that rainy, cold day.  Don’t know that I’ve ever been wetter, dirtier, or happier.  My gratitude is unending.

Two weeks later the UPS man showed up.  When I got home from work there were two huge boxes on my front porch filled with hosta, day lilies, nettles, wild ginger, lambs ear, more hosta, more day lilies, and some clumps I couldn’t name and can’t wait to see bloom.  Next day another huge box with more precious clumps of perennials showed up.  Before getting to work that Friday everything was in the ground…cue the rain.  Really it started to rain the minute I was finished.  Love my universe. 

I came to learn that my friend Lance, who sent all the UPS boxes, had dug up his garden to provide clumps of wonderful perennials for me all the while his family was going through a hard time.  Now every gardener knows the therapeutic value of digging deep in your garden and sharing with someone else but this act of kindness was beyond words.  Lance’s daughter Brynn had eye surgery just recently and it was not yet bringing the anticipated result.  The discouraging part was that she is legally blind in her other eye, this was the better eye.  I hope and pray that God gives this family what it needs knowing full well that it may not be what they want.  I believe that kindness of this caliber deserves the universe’ full attention.   I hope that you will continue, as I will, to keep this family in your prayers.  I count on God’s kind universe every day and know that we can help too.

I’m grateful for my tiny garden miracle, the kindness of gardeners and the anticipated miraculous turn out for the Mitchell family. Amen.